The Department of Homeland Security’s Counterterrorism Mission Center and Countering Weapons of Mass Destruction Office has just sent out a memo warning law enforcement officials that “violent extremists probably are seeking to exploit public fears associated with the spread of COVID-19 to incite violence, intimidate targets and promote their ideologies, and we assess these efforts will intensify in the coming months.”
“Probably”? There isn’t any doubt about it. The Islamic State (ISIS) has even told Muslims that if they commit an act of jihad violence, it could prevent them from contracting the coronavirus. In the latest edition of its Al-Naba newsletter, ISIS stated that the coronavirus was a “plague” sent by Allah, causing “painful torment” to non-Muslims. In response to it, “The Muslims should not pity the disbelievers and apostates, but should use the current opportunities to continue working to free Muslim prisoners from the camps in which they face subjugation and disease.”
How could they work to free them? By means of jihad massacres. Taking this path would bring them great rewards: “They should also remember that obedience to God — the most beloved form of which is jihad — turns away the torment and wrath of God.”
The idea that Allah will punish the unrighteous in this world is in the Qur’an: “So if they repent, it is better for them; but if they turn away, Allah will punish them with a painful punishment in this world and the hereafter. And there will not be for them on earth any protector or helper.” (Qur’an 9:74) In line with this passage, ISIS even expresses the hope that Allah will make COVID-19 even more lethal than it already is, and to “increase their torment,” that is, the torment of non-Muslims, “and save the believers from all that.”
Meanwhile, if disobedience to Allah gets one “a painful punishment in this world and the hereafter,” then the immediate inference from this is that if one is righteous, one will prosper in this world as well as in the next. And the most righteous deed of all is jihad. A hadith has a Muslim asking Muhammad: “Instruct me as to such a deed as equals Jihad (in reward).” Muhammad replied, “I do not find such a deed.” (Bukhari 4.52.44)
The DHS wants to reassure you, however, saying that it has “no information indicating any active plotting is underway.” FBI Director Chris Wray added: “With all the worry and uncertainty out there, we want the public to know that there are still things they can count on: We’re here, and we’re going to stay here, to protect them, no matter what. Because our criminal and national security adversaries sure aren’t going to take a day off — whether that’s for the coronavirus or, for that matter, anything else.”
“We’re here”? Great. That’s hardly reassuring. Even as ISIS is actively encouraging its followers to stage new jihad massacres in the West, the DHS, the FBI, and the rest of them are still institutionally committed to ignoring, downplaying, or denying the motivating ideology behind jihad terrorism. Its memo on the threat connected to the coronavirus contained a good deal of information about supposed white supremacist plots, as well as about the ISIS exhortations to violence — as if they were equivalent threats. The bureau doesn’t want to appear “Islamophobic” by scrutinizing potential jihad terrorists too closely; such scrutiny would abet the impression that there is something about Islam that incites some believers to violence, and the feds have already ruled out that possibility.
Remember that according to a recent report, the FBI failed to stop six terror attacks that killed 70 people in recent years, despite the fact that each of their perpetrators “had been on the FBI’s radar.” Instead of following up, “agents quickly closed the cases after concluding they were not national security threats, Justice Department Inspector General Michael E. Horowitz said in the report.”
The attackers, according to the Washington Times, included these jihad terrorists:
⦁ Omar Mateen, who killed 49 people at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Florida, in 2016.
⦁ Tamerlan Tsarnaev, who killed three people at the Boston Marathon in 2013.
⦁ Nidal Hasan, who massacred 13 people at Fort Hood, Texas, in 2009.
⦁ Esteban Santiago, who killed five people in a 2017 attack at the Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport.
Santiago was a convert to Islam who said that he committed his murders in the service of the Islamic State (ISIS).
And now the FBI director wants to reassure us in the face of ISIS threats by saying “We’re here”? Doesn’t he have any good news?
Robert Spencer is the director of Jihad Watch and a Shillman Fellow at the David Horowitz Freedom Center. He is author of 19 books, including the New York Times bestsellers The Politically Incorrect Guide to Islam (and the Crusades) and The Truth About Muhammad. His latest book is The Palestinian Delusion: The Catastrophic History of the Middle East Peace Process. Follow him on Twitter here. Like him on Facebook here.